Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Surviving Iowa 2016

So this is a thing that happened, and tends to every four years.

Everybody gets hyped up about Iowa, skews the results of the caucusing to fit their narratives, and quickly march onto New Hampshire to skew the results of THAT ever further.

The only things we should note from these early caucuses and primaries are who drops out of the races when it becomes obvious they don't stand a chance to even show up at the summer conventions as a cover band playing outside the arenas. In this case, the Democrats lose Martin O'Malley - who clearly wasn't going to steal anything away from Hillary and Bernie - and the Republicans lose Mike Huckabee - who lost the evangelical support to the likes of Trump (?) and Cruz (!).

I am surprised in Huckabee's failure in particular: in an election cycle in which the uber-religious voters have more sway than ever before, Huck had lost their interest to fresher Bible-thumpers like Cruz. It could be that the anti-gay, Culture-War message that was Huck's patented formula didn't contain enough bile towards immigrants, or towards the Establishment that Huckabee became a part of during his interim as a Fox Channel show host. This was a guy who in 2012 polled best among GOP candidates versus Obama, yet refused to run: either knowing Obama really wasn't that weak the way the Far Right kept painting him as, or else he got complacent about being that Fox Not-News host. Hindsight hurts a lot (for him, as an Obama acolyte I couldn't be happier)...

On the bright side, this can be the last time I mention this fraud of a preacher/politician who threatened the Separation of Church and State and whose hypocrisy about Christianity became insulting.

As for the Democratic race, it's pared down to the bare essential: a campaign between the Centrist forces that have led the Democrats to the White House in 1992 and 2008 - Hillary - and the Progressive, socialist forces that have been rising up against the outrages of Wall Street and income inequality - Bernie. O'Malley may have been an impressive candidate on paper, but so were Hillary and Bernie, and we've seen before that Democratic voters prefer transformative figures like Obama over "traditional" political figures like Biden in 2008. And despite the heated rhetoric on Twitter and social media between Bernie Bros and I'mWithHill forces, the two sides are amicable at least (knowing who the real enemy will be after summer) regarding who can win their primaries.

In terms of the "big" winners last night: There was always a possibility Ted Cruz could win in Iowa because he speaks the language of the Social conservatives who dominate that state, but there's no guarantee he'll win over the more Economic conservative base that holds sway in New Hampshire. Trump will remain Trump, as he still holds impressive polling leads everywhere else: the argument was going to be if the polling numbers matched the reality at the ballot boxes, to which the answer is "Mostly accurate." Rubio is being hailed as a winner in the coveted Third Place, placing better - at 23 percent - than the polling suggested and positioning himself as the Establishment standard bearer - for now - that the anti-Trump anti-Cruz forces can rally to.

I still can't see Rubio lasting the race: his flaws will get more notice now, New Hampshire may be a stumbling block as Kasich has been polling well there.

The interesting thing for me is turnout: in 2012 barely anybody showed, but 2016 Iowa had near-record attendance. The enthusiasm of the party base is higher than expected, and bodes ill for the Republican Establishment as the ANTI-Establishment candidates (Trump/Cruz) are the ones likely driving that uptick.

Also, I watched a great episode of the X-Files last night. I might link my review of it here later.

Just remember kids: For the LOVE OF GOD don't vote Republican.

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